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Assemblywoman Lisa Swain. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Swain set to chair Assembly Appropriations Committee

Coughlin picks Bergen Democrat to head influential panel

By David Wildstein, January 14 2022 12:01 pm

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin is expected to name Lisa Swain, a three-term Democrat from Bergen County, to chair the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Swain will replace John Burzichelli, who lost his bid for re-election to an 11th term last November.

The pick reflects a renewed relationship between Bergen and Middlesex counties.  Swain was the choice of Bergen County Democratic Chairman Paul Juliano, the New Jersey Globe has learned.

The Bergen delegation had largely backed Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto in his unsuccessful re-election bid against Coughlin after the 2017 election.  As a result, Gary Schaer (D-Passaic) lost the chairmanship of the Assembly Budget Committee.  Instead, the post went to Eliana Pintor-Marin (D-Newark).

This will mark the first time the two panels that authorize the spending of state dollars were chaired by a woman since Barbara Faith Kalik (D-Willingboro) chaired the Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee in 1991.

Swain, 63, spent nearly a decade on the Fair Lawn Township Council and was serving as mayor in 2018 when a sequence of events triggered two open Assembly seats.

After State Sen. Bob Gordon (D-Fair Lawn) was confirmed as a member of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, Bergen County Democrats picked Assemblyman Joseph Lagana (D-Paramus) to replace him in the State Senate.

Almost simultaneously, Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-Maywood), who had also sought the Senate seat, resigned to take a job at the North Jersey District Water Commission.

Swain and former Bergenfield Councilman Christopher Tully won special election conventions to replace Lagana and Eustace in the Assembly.

Tully is slated to chair the Assembly Science, Innovation and Technology Committee.  He’ll replace Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick), who took his seat in the State Senate this week.

Bergen claimed key committee assignments in the upper house this week, with Senate President Nicholas Scutari gave Lagana a seat on Judiciary and assigning freshman State Sen. Gordon Johnson (D-Englewood) to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.  That panel is chaired by State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge).

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